Emotions were running high when the ACT lost the national indoor hockey final to NSW on Tuesday, with the team also mourning the loss of Chris MacKinnon, a long-time stalwart of ACT hockey.
MacKinnon, who lost a long battle with cancer on Sunday, had two of her sons, Luke and Paul, playing in the ACT team.
"A lot of the guys have been very close with her over 20, 30 years, so there's a fair bit sort of happening throughout the week that went a little bit unnoticed," Paul said of the emotional end to the four-day tournament.
"The fact of losing a national title final gets you as well, so there was a fair bit building into it.''
The ACT took a 2-0 lead early in the game with goals to Glenn Turner and Paul MacKinnon, but New South Wales showed its class in coming back to win 3-2 in sweltering conditions at Lyneham.
Turner, who leaves for Mumbai to play in the Hockey India League on Wednesday, said "it wasn't to be".
"New South came back pretty hard and ended up pipping us at the post, 3-2, a tough one, but they deserved it, I guess," Turner said. "I think we had a pretty good chance, a pretty good structure this time … and they said talking to the New South guys that it was a lot tougher than usual, so hopefully we can build on this for next year."
The ACT players now go their separate ways, with Paul MacKinnon to play in Holland, but are vowing to return next year to take back the title they last won in 2008.
"The guys who are playing in this team have played together for quite a long time and continue to play because it's enjoyable and [they are] very close mates who have grown up playing with or against each other,'' McKinnon said. "I think we were dominant over the tournament, just for a couple of patches in two games we weren't as consistent, so there's a lot to improve on."